This review contains spoilers.
3.13 Requiem For A Welterweight
“Josie, I’m an ex-con who walked out of the SATs, remember?”
So speaks Archie Andrews, a lovable doofus who never met a bad idea he couldn’t saunter shirtless into the maelstrom of. His latest terrible decision? Accepting money from Elio (Julian Haig) to throw a fight with a bruiser reigning champ. You see, boxing helps Archie focus… even though when we saw him before the series’ brief hiatus a few weeks back he was super into music again, but whatever. (Cue Veronica’s now immortal “Forget it Jug, it’s Riverdale,” a quote I will probably be referencing for the remainder of the season as storylines on this show probably won’t get any more coherent in the immediate future). The point is, the heart wants what the heart wants, and Archie’s latest passion is to prove his worth by beating the crap out of anyone in his way. At least this time he is doing so in a theoretically more legit way as opposed to his prior Red Circle antics, so – progress?
Wrongly comparing getting paid to take a dive to a band getting booked as an opening act, he shares his thoughts with current paramour/voice of reason Josie who tells him it’s a terrible idea and he is worth more than the $5,000 he would get. Tom Keller, apparent boxing coach extraordinaire concurs, and won’t continue Archie’s training if he continues down this dark path. To his credit, Archie does realise that throwing the bout is an awful idea, and tries to back out and is quickly told that if he doesn’t fight it will have serious repercussions. His back against the wall, he explains the situation to Keller, who agrees to play Mickey to Archie’s Rocky.
On fight night, Arch shows that his time in juvie’s Fight Club has paid off. He outfights his fearsome opponent but loses the match anyway, most likely because Elio likely paid a judge off to cover his own bets. Although a loser, Archie fought on his own terms, and he celebrates by spending the night with Josie. Future episodes will see if this tedious subplot continues – to the writers, I implore you, please figure out a way to incoporate Archie into the interesting aspects of the show instead of sidelining him – or if he now has gotten what he needed out of his search for inner peace via boxing.
Elsewhere, Veronica continues to deal with the fall-out of destroying her father’s Fizzle Rocks operation. She decides that the best way to protect her mother and, to a lesser degree, herself, is to help Gladys Jones (portrayed with scenery chewing menace by Gina Gershon) take over Riverdale’s drug trade. It’s actually not a terrible plan. Having Gladys in charge of the Fizzle Rocks empire is step towards Veronica achieving her totally naive dream of having her dad’s business dealings be on the up and up. Of course, this completely ignores everything we and Veronica know about Hiram, but what would the Lodge family be without some serious denial?
Still recovering from his (Hermione-ordered) shooting, Hiram is walking a tightrope between being mellow and madness. The imminent threat of violence against Hermione is extremely disturbing, and Veronica is doing the best to make sure that her mother doesn’t become collateral damage for the drug bonfire she and Reggie held.
For her part, Gladys seems to be not an opportunist like Veronica thinks but a very calculated criminal looking to play the long game. The only other person who realises this right now is Jellybean, and she’s too busy getting a coffee fix to bother with anything else. Immediately aware of the fact that Jughead is a terrible Serpent King, Gladys undermines her own son by incorporating the zonked out G&G addicts into his gang. (For what its worth, I am more than ready for the Serpents to go under as the Teenage Gang Debs aesthetic of the Pretty Poisons are infinitely more interesting).
With all this going on, poor Betty is trying to save her mom from drowning via The Farm, a cult who we are finally starting to delve into the actions of. She succeeds in resuscitating Alice but really, her mother is gone. A casualty to a group whose sinster nature will likely weave together all of Riverdale’s dangling threads throughout the remainder of the season.
Read Chris’ review of the previous episode, Bizarrodale, here.